Alopecia areata is a form of baldness that affects approximately 2% of people in the United States. In this condition, hair is lost from various parts of the body, typically the scalp. The actual cause of this condition is unknown, but new research clearly supports the idea that this disease is an autoimmune condition, meaning it is a manifestation of a disruption of the regulation of the immune system. There is certainly thought to be a genetic component as well.
Treatment for this condition is often unsuccessful, but includes medications designed to treat immune imbalance. This may include the use of steroids. Continue reading
It is very exciting to see the incredible increase in scientific research being released that relates gut issues to various health problems elsewhere in the body. The research that explores this relationship in terms of autoimmune conditions is particularly interesting, not just because it links gut-related problems to changes in immune balance, but in terms of how this new understanding might open the door for new treatments for these challenging conditions.
Who knew that our lifestyle choices play such an important role in balancing the immune system?
On today’s program, I chat with Dr. Susan Blum, founder of the HealMyGut program and author of the wonderful book The Immune System Recovery Plan, which really zeroes in on this critical concept, to understand how the choices you make can dictate your immune health.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) has been diagnosed in more than 400,000 Americans, with about 200 new cases identified each week.
The overwhelming approach in addressing MS is centered on drugs designed to alter the course of the disease once it has manifested. Fortunately, leading edge researchers around the globe are exploring other approaches, including modifiable lifestyle factors, that may be leveraged in a situation like MS, in which the immune system has became out of balance.
In this video blog, I review a study published by German researchers in which they manipulated the fatty acid availability in laboratory animals while they assessed various markers of immune regulation.
What these researchers discovered is that when short chain fatty acids were enhanced in the laboratory animal model of human MS, the immune markers that are typically out of balance were brought under control. When long chain fatty acids were accentuated, the immune markers worsened.
We make short chain fatty acids when our gut bacteria are provided fuel in the form of prebiotic fiber. So the take home message is that this research would indicate that it may be reasonable for MS patients to consider increasing their consumption of prebiotic foods as a method of achieving immune balance.
Modern medicine is clearly vested in what I like to call the Las Vegas mentality. We’ve all heard that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” and it seems that, as it relates to medicine today, we still tend to look at illness as being uniquely related to the body system that is affected. For example, autism is thought to represent a brain disorder having to do with the development and functionality of that organ. This is despite the ever-increasing research that demonstrates significant gut abnormalities associated with this disorder. Further, a recent study has shown that giving children with asthma increased amounts of dietary fiber leads to significant improvement. This study clearly challenges the notion that asthma is specifically a lung related disorder.
Psoriasis is a skin disorder and has been described as the most common autoimmune condition in the United States. It is thought that as many as 7.5 million Americans suffer from this condition with more than 120 million people worldwide having this disease.
Fundamental aspects of our clinical protocol for dealing with multiple sclerosis actually center upon re-building gut wall integrity. Multiple sclerosis, like other autoimmune conditions is a manifestation of lack of regulation of the immune system. We now understand that the integrity of the gut wall plays a fundamentally important role in keeping balance within the immune system. Loss of integrity, “leaky gut syndrome,” is a situation that is characterized by various proteins and even bacteria within the gut gaining access to the systemic circulation, and as such, challenging the in system and leading to inflammation. And it is this situation that has now been correlated with such autoimmune diseases as type I diabetes, celiac disease, as well as inflammatory conditions of the bowel.
Like these diseases, multiple sclerosis is a condition of increased inflammation with auto immunity. It is known that the blood-brain barrier is broken down in multiple sclerosis. It is now becoming clear however that like other autoimmune conditions, there is evidence to suggest that there is increased intestinal permeability in multiple sclerosis as well. Continue reading
Think of it. For just the past 3 decades we have somehow become convinced that dietary fat represented a threat to our health. Mind you, fat has been a critical macronutrient for humans and our forebears for at least 2 million years. But suddenly, fat became responsible for every health woe you could think of.
Fortunately, science and common sense now prevail and this ridiculous aberration in human nutrition has been corrected.
Welcome fat back to the table. It’s good for the heart, brain, immune system and just about every aspect of human physiology you consider. And as it specifically relates to dementia, new research clearly shows us that individuals eating more of the “dreaded” fat actually have a substantial risk reduction for becoming demented while those with diets favoring carbohydrates the risk for dementia dramatically increased.
Debates about what we should be eating are often carried out from positions based on emotion. I believe we should place greater value on the published science coming to us from our most respected institutions.